Q: I am currently a school librarian who is ready to expand her horizons…

Q: I am currently a school librarian who is ready to expand her horizons. I have an MLIS and am also working on an Educational Technology MS. I am moving to Seattle soon and would like tips on entering the academic library scene.

 

TA: Making the switch from school libraries to academic libraries can be tricky.  Academic librarians don’t necessarily see a lot of commonalities between what they do and the requirements and responsibilities of being a school librarian.  Now that, of course, is a huge generalization, and it’s not intended to discourage; the real aim here is to educate.  So, knowing that it can be tricky, you need to approach this wisely.  First, having an additional master’s degree will be a real asset, especially in educational technology.  Next, moving from one library to another, especially in another geographic area, is a great second chance at a first impression.  That is, you can really reinvent yourself.  Look at professional associations in the area that focus on academic libraries and jump in.  It’s a great way to network, meet folks in the area, and establish a professional reputation for yourself in the new geographic location.  Third, I think it’s important to consider your strategy in moving from one library to another.  It might be difficult to go from a small school library to a large academic library.  But you could try something more manageable in strategically going from a small school library, to a large public library.  Then maybe from the large public library to a community college library, from community college to small academic, from small academic to large academic.  You achieve your goal but in strategic, manageable, progressive career steps.  There’s no one way that fits everyone, so don’t limit yourself when plotting out your career path.  Be sure to look at our other responses that touch on transferable skills.

 

And I’m curious about other folks and their experience.  Anyone successfully made the move from school to academic?  Anyone in the Seattle area want to share their experience about living and working in the region?  Any tips for new librarians getting started in Seattle?

3 thoughts on “Q: I am currently a school librarian who is ready to expand her horizons…

  1. Depending on when you’re moving to the Seattle area, attending the ARCL-WA/OR conference (http://www.acrlwa.org/) may be a great opportunity to network with academic librarians and get a feel for the local academic library scene. If the timing doesn’t work for conference attendance, the site is full of useful info, including links to regional job sites.
    Another possible strategy would be to get a job in educational technology at a college or university (these jobs are sometimes within IT, not the libraries) and then move to the library as you can. At my institution, there are many more opportunities for educational technologists in central IT or academic departments than in the libraries.
    Librarian jobs in Seattle aren’t the easiest to come by. WA state was hit particularly hard with budget cuts and we’re just now starting to hire again within the state-supported schools. Combine that with the iSchool at UW and all those grads who want to stay in Seattle, and the market can be a little tough. Thinking outside the box with regards to your employer will definitely serve you well. Good luck!

  2. Hello Tiffany,
    I made the jump from a school librarian to a community college library seven years ago. At the time what was required at the college were expert skills searching databases and presentation skills for delivering library instruction. I was able to transfer those skills from my school library experience. These days usage of various technology applications is a must so pursuing a MS in Educational Technology is probably a good move. I agree with Jennifer about thinking out of the box to expand your employment potential. Good luck.

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